“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How to Be a Good Leader? Carry the Luggage

May 20, 2017
Image result for carla overbeck olympics
Carla Overbeck (current Duke Soccer Coach) at the 1996 Olympics
Chances are you’ve never heard of Carla Overbeck. She was captain of the U.S. national women’s soccer team that won Olympic gold in 1996 and the World Cup in 1999, a team that over four years of international play posted an 84-6-6 record, making them one of the winningest squads in the history of sports.
Overbeck was arguably the key to their success -- “the heartbeat of that team and the engine,” and “the essence of the team,” as one teammate put it. Yet no one has ever heard of her. She wasn’t the best player on the team, or the most talented. She played defense, and rarely scored, though she played almost every minute of every game. To the outside world she was invisible, but to her teammates she was indispensable.
Overbeck also had one habit that seems kind of eccentric: When the players arrived at a hotel, she would carry everyone’s bags to their rooms for them.
That story about Overbeck schlepping the luggage appears in The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams, a remarkable new book that challenges some conventional ideas about leadership.
Its author, Sam Walker, is an editor at the Wall Street Journal and an avid sports fan. He set out more than a decade ago to study the greatest teams in sports history and figure out what traits they shared. He reckoned you could apply those same principles to business.
Over the course of 11 years, Walker studied 1200 teams in 37 sports. He traveled around the world conducting interviews. After all that he could find only one thing that extraordinary teams had in common, and it wasn’t what you’d expect.
It was not the coach. It was not a superstar player. The key to success was that each had an extraordinary captain -- like Carla Overbeck.
“The most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness,” Walker argues, “is the character of the player who leads it.”
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Health Authorities Continue to Fail Us

We’re told to listen to doctors and qualified professionals—but they’ve been preaching the same advice for 50 years now

February 16, 2017

Image result for eggs

For example, there is no evidence to suggest that the cholesterol in eggs relates to blood cholesterol levels, but we are still advised to only eat up to two a day.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Gary Taubes’ seminal The New York Times article, exposing the fraudulent research and advice from Ancel Keys, that saturated fats clog arteries and cause heart attacks. Titled “What If It’s All Been a Big Fat Lie,” Taubes documented the history of the health advice we’ve been dished since the 1950s, the fact that the low fat dogma was decided by the government, the low fat diet’s increasingly negative impact on the health of the population, and the backdoor deals that provided certain industries with huge profits at the expense of everyone else.
We have since discovered that much of the research demonizing saturated fat—and fat in general—was in fact funded by sugar and cereal companies looking to keep the conversation away from their commodity’s place in everyday diets. Research conducted over the last 30 or so years reveals there is no evidence the consumption of saturated fats causes heart attacks or strokes; cholesterol’s role in developing heart disease is actually much more complex than we’ve been led to believe. In fact, despite constant protests from nutritionists and government authorities, the research actually shows that low carb diets are significantly more effective than low fat diets. And yet, the government’s dietary recommendations have changed very little.
Now, health authorities have attempted to cover up the fact that they are ignoring current research in favor of dated advice. In 2015, science and nutrition journalist Nina Teicholtz penned an editorial in the British Medical Journal criticizing the USDA’s dietary guidelines for failing to reflect the current scientific literature. After a year of scathing criticism from academics and authorities demanding the article be retracted, independent reviewers stood in favor of Teicholtz and her editorial. One of the most damning paragraphs is as follows:
In conclusion, the recommended diets are supported by a minuscule quantity of rigorous evidence that only marginally supports claims that these diets can promote better health than alternatives. Furthermore, the NEL (Nutrition Evidence Library) reviews of the recommended diets discount or omit important data. There have been at a minimum, three National Institutes of Health funded trials on some 50 ,000 people showing that a diet low in fat and saturated fat is ineffective for fighting heart disease, obesity, diabetes, or cancer. Two of these trials are omitted from the NEL review. The third trial is included, but its results are ignored. This oversight is particularly striking because this trial, the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), was the largest nutrition trial in history. Nearly 49, 000 women followed a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and grains for an average of seven years, at the end of which investigators found no significant advantage of this diet for weight loss, diabetes, heart disease, or cancer of any kind. Critics dismiss this trial for various reasons, including the fact that fat consumption did not differ enough significantly between the intervention and control groups, but the percentage of calories from both fat and saturated fat were more than 25% lower in the intervention group than in the control group (26.7% v 36.2% for total fat and 8.8% v 12.1% for saturated fats). The WHI findings have been confirmed by other sizable studies and are therefore hard to dismiss. When the omitted findings from these three clinical trials are factored into the review, the overwhelming preponderance of rigorous evidence does not support any of the dietary committee’s health claims for its recommended diets.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Unspoken Problem in Sports: Concussions

By John O'Sullivan
January 18, 2017

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(This week’s blog was written by Alecko Eskandarian (@alecko11), former US National Team player and current Assistant Coach of the NY Cosmos of the NASL. This article originally appeared 11/18/16 on the Players Tribune and they have graciously granted us permission to reprint it. We have read many articles about concussions, and this one really hit home on how quickly life can change for an athlete with a concussion. Concussions are not a soccer problem; they are a problem across all sports. Thanks to Alecko for addressing such an important topic and for allowing us to reprint.)
My teammate and I were standing outside RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. It was April 2003, our first home game of the season against the Chicago Fire. It was my first official appearance as a professional soccer player. It was a dream come true.
“Let’s take a picture,” he said. “I feel like this is a day we definitely want to remember.” He handed someone his digital camera, we posed together and smiled.
I was a 20-year-old rookie — picked No. 1 by D.C. United in the MLS SuperDraft just a few months prior. I hadn’t played against Kansas City in our season opener, so I had made sure to bust my ass in practice that week. A few days before the game, Coach had even pulled me aside to let me know that he was going to try to get me some minutes. So I put the word out to family and friends. My parents drove down from New Jersey, my cousin flew in from L.A., some friends came up from the University of Virginia.
But I don’t remember seeing anyone at the match. I don’t remember my name being announced over the loudspeaker. I don’t remember the roar of the crowd and the bright lights.
I don’t even remember stepping onto the field.
Read the rest of the article by clicking on the link below:


Friday, December 23, 2016

Our 2016 Books of the Year

December 3, 2016
“You cannot open a book without learning something.” – Confucius
Yes, it is that time of year again, the time where our staff shares some of our favorite reads in the world of coaching, parenting, and athlete development. We are all avid readers and lifelong learners, and every year we pour through numerous books, articles, podcasts and more looking for inspiration and great information to pass on to all of you. Below you will find our favorite books of 2016, the ones we picked up and learned the most from. You can click on any title to cover image to grab it on Amazon. At the end of the article is a link to our favorite books from years past, in case you want to dive deeper or get a book for a parent, coach or athlete in your life. Enjoy.

Best Book for Coaches:

This book was the clear winner for me this year. Most books by coaches (Mike Smith Coaches the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons) talk about their championship season. This book shares how Smith took the Falcons from an also ran to perennial title contender by purposefully building the culture. Then it details how he lost sight of the things that made them great, which eventually cost him his job. The book also contains tremendous insight from Jon Gordon on his work building positive team cultures, and tons a great activities for coaches to do with their teams. This book is a must for any serious coach!

Honorable mention:

Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
How do coaches and leaders get the most out of their people? Start by taking ownership of everything, both good and bad. This great read details lessons learned by the authors during their time as SEAL team commanders with Task Unit Bruiser during the Iraq War, and how any leader can learn from what the SEALs do. Our biggest takeaway: when a leader blames a team member, the blame game starts and excuses start flying. The blame cascades down and ultimately no one takes responsibility. But when leaders have “extreme ownership” then team members will admit to wrongdoing and be held accountable as well. Think about that your next team talk!
The author attended our Way of Champions conference in July 2016, and that is how we learned about this wonderful book. In it, she tells her story as a consultant with a talented but underachieving high school hockey team. She tells how she used her business experience building strength based teams to help every individual understand what their teammates brought to the team, the reasons behind their behavior, and a path forward that eventually leads to a state championship. Monte shares her entire blueprint that coaches can do with their own teams. It is a great read.
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by Roberto Pool and Anders Ericsson
If you have read The Talent Code or Outliers then you have heard of Anders Ericsson, the researcher on expertise whose work was slightly bastardized by Malcolm Gladwell and others into the false “10,000 Hour Rule.” In this book, Ericsson sets the record straight, replies to other critics of his work, and teaches coaches how to make practice both purposeful and deliberate. There are some real gems in this one.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Let’s Stop the Early Sport Specialization Madness!

September 27, 2016

(photo: bretcontreras.com)

(photo: bretcontreras.com)
“I have a question,” said a mother recently at one of my speaking engagements. “I have an 8-year-old son who loves soccer. But the only soccer team in our town requires that he play all year round, and he still wants to play other sports. What are we to do?”
Sound familiar?
Across the country, I hear similar questions all the time. I meet parents who understand that playing a single sport year-round prior to high school is not good for their kids. But they are stuck. There is no alternative. Name any sport, and parents are often faced with a similar dilemma. The only organizations that provide higher level coaching, and where most of the better athletes play, require all or nothing commitments far before any experts recommend them (As a caveat, this article does not pertain to sports considered early specialization sports such as female gymnastics, figure skating, and diving, where elite competitors reach their athletic peak in their mid-teens).
Want a spot for your 8-year-old soccer player? Welcome aboard, as long as you make soccer your primary commitment 11 months a year. Want to play basketball this winter for three months? Sorry, we will give your spot to someone else. Does your family like to camp on summer weekends? Sorry, we have baseball tournaments every weekend, and we don’t take kids on our spring baseball travel team who won’t commit to playing in the summer and fall.
Want to make the high school team? Want to be recruited for college? So many parents feel the pressure to force their kids all in too young, especially when colleges in sports likes women’s soccer and lacrosse are scouting middle school age events. (The NCAA, sadly, has refused to take action, even though the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Associations have drafted and supported proposals banning contact with kids before September 1 of their junior year! Even the Ivy League has asked the NCAA to put a stop to early recruiting.)
The youth sports system, aptly called the “youth sports industrial complex” by ESPN writer Tim Keown, is failing our kids, especially when it comes to early sports specialization. We are robbing our kids of their childhood and the opportunity to experience the joy of participating in multiple sports.
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Olympic swim coach David Marsh says secret he learned long ago helped US women to gold

August 12, 2016

2016 U.S. Olympic women's swim team coach David Marsh says he’s needed to gain the trust of his team to help motivate them.

2016 U.S. Olympic women's swim team coach David Marsh says he’s needed to gain the trust of his team to help motivate them. Jeff Siner

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy

- David Marsh thought the banner was a good idea at the time, although in hindsight he believes it was one of the dumbest coaching decisions he ever made.
This hard lesson in how to best coach women came more than 15 years ago, long before Charlotte's Marsh ascended to his current high-profile summer job as the head coach of the extremely successful 2016 U.S. Olympic women's swim team. That team has grabbed multiple medals almost every night so far in Brazil at these Olympics, helping push Team USA to the top of the overall medal standings.
Marsh still lived in Alabama 15 years ago when he found out what not to do when you coach women. He was the head coach of both the men's and women's swim teams at Auburn. His women had just finished the first day of a three-day meet that would decide the national championship. They had never won a national title before, but they were in the lead and flying high.
Let's really motivate them for the final two days, Marsh and his staff decided. So they had a mock banner designed for the team meeting that night proclaiming the Auburn women's team as national champions and then unveiled it to the women.
"And we couldn't have swum worse the next day," Marsh said. "There were tears all over the pool deck. We had projected an outcome, making it more about results than relationships. It was ridiculous."
In his regular job, Marsh coaches some of the best male and female swimmers in the world for SwimMAC Carolina's Team Elite in Charlotte. But he doesn't coach them the same way. He has learned a number of things over the years. The most important one, he said, comes down to the fact that most female swimmers value relationships over results.
"The magic happens when they all get along," Marsh said. "And they also want to hear from people they trust. With the men, they often want to hear from just anybody who will jack them up a little bit. With the women, if they don't trust you, you can't motivate them."

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy
Click on the link below to read the rest of the article:

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article95400887.html#storylink=cpy

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Championship Behaviors For Better Coaching

By Terry Pettit
August 8, 2016

Terry Pettit
Coach Pettit talks to members of his 1995 national championship team (Lincoln Journal Star)

Consider these Championship Behaviors that will make you a better coach this season!

1. Limit the amount of talking you do in practice with the use of key words. If it takes more than two minutes to explain a drill or a behavior you are entertaining yourself and confusing your players.

2. Leave sarcasm at the door. Sarcasm is easy and fun with peers, but it erodes trust when used by an authority figure with the people he is attempting to teach or lead. Even when the person of less power laughs she can feel diminished by the most important person in her development.

3. Every time we ask a player to make an adjustment we are entering into a contract with them that says: If you are willing to be uncomfortable and take this risk as a player, then I am going to limit my feedback to you on this one behavior. It's not productive to ask a player to lengthen the first step on her approach and then observe that she attacked the ball to the wrong zone.

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